It was announced on Tuesday that The Walt Disney Company has purchased Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4 billion in stock and cash. And wasting no time, multiple new movies were also announced.
Lets just get this out of the way, I really don’t know how I feel about this as of yet. As soon as the news came out, I was bombarded from all sides asking me how I felt about this. If you know me in the slightest, you know I am obsessed with the original film (I stopped counting how many times I had seen it at 485 times, and that was about 25 years ago), and I feel that it was my love of that film that really shaped my life. From running a comic book store to my love of technology, everything stems from that midnight showing I saw when I was six-years-old in Phoenix.
As time went on, I of course loved The Empire Strikes Back, and portions of Return of the Jedi were awesome … other parts not so much. At the end of the day, however, I had three movies I loved. And that was where it all went awry.
Star Wars become … a thing. A monstrous, ever growing thing the powered an entire cottage industry of merchandise. And when the beast needed to be fed again, Lucas finally made good on a promise he had made decades earlier: He gave us the prequels.
Between Episode IV (the first film) and Episode V, Lucas announced that he had plans for a total of nine films. After Return of the Jedi, which was Episode VI, he would go back and make I – III, and then he’d move on to VII – IX. We know the first three would have to do with Luke’s father and the Clone Wars, but he never really gave us any indication as to what the third trilogy would be about. After the critical panning of the prequel trilogy, Lucas said he was done with the films, and I don’t think anyone was too upset.
What we now learn is that he does indeed have script treatments ready for all three, and Disney plans to start making them immediately. And they won’t end with IX, they will go for as long as they can.
At first I was horrified by the notion of someone else working on Star Wars, but then I thought of something … I’m excited for James Bond 24 & 25.
Ian Fleming wrote 13 James Bond novels, and a few short stories, and that’s it. We have been existing in a world of James Bond films that had nothing to do with Fleming for years now, and we now have Skyfall, a movie that some are saying is the best of the series.
Then I thought about what Disney has done with Marvel. When Disney bought Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion, everyone thought this was certain doom for the comics company, and now this arrangement has generated the third highest grossing film of all time with The Avengers.
People fretted when Disney bought The Muppets some years ago. If you saw 2011′s The Muppets you know that Disney ended up producing a fantastic film that brought the magic back to the franchise.
So franchises sometimes end up in good hands without their creators around to guide them. And heaven knows Lucas has done a lot to annoy me over the years, so I’m almost wondering if this actually could have been the best thing to happen to something that literally shaped my life.
It is Lucas that I have been annoyed with, not the Star Wars universe itself. I am still a fan of the worlds and mythology he has created, and perhaps removing him from the equation is actually for the best.
Now, for those of you who have asked where I think Episodes VII – IX will go … tune back in for my thoughts on the possible stories.
Global leader in high-quality family entertainment agrees to acquire world-renowned Lucasfilm Ltd, including legendary STAR WARS franchise.
Acquisition continues Disney’s strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world’s best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.
Lucasfilm to join company’s global portfolio of world class brands including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and ABC.
STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.
Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”
Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and “evergreen” Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.
Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.
The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.
Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm’s legendary Star Wars franchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks. Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world’s top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney’s strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.
The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney’s very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company’s unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney’s portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company’s ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world’s highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.
The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.
Note: Additional information and comments from Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, and Jay Rasulo, senior executive vice president and CFO, The Walt Disney Company, regarding Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, are attached.